A complete western Bhutan experience, this trip will take you right from Paro to Phobjikha valley. This tour is designed to give our guests an experience of our unique culture and traditions. One gets to experience great accommodation and foods at our partner hotels and resorts. This tour will give our guests an insight into the rural live of Bhutan, where subsistence farming is still practiced. The wonder of Bhutan is the traditional architecture which is well preserved and also blends perfectly with the landscapes. The lives of the people are intertwined with religion, society and the nature.
Day 1: Arrive. Transfer to Thimphu, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2: Explore Thimphu valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: Transfer to Phobjikha, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Phobjikha.
Day 4: Explore Phobjikha valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Phobjikha.
Day 5: Transfer to Punakha valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Punakha.
Day 6: Explore Punakha valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Punakha.
Day 7: Transfer to Paro, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Paro.
Day 8: Trek Tiger nest monastery. Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Paro.
Day 9: International Departure to your onward journey.
Day 1 : THIMPHU (2300 m)
Arrive – Paro airport and then transfer to Thimphu. (1hr30mins drive)
Our pilgrimage begins with a journey towards east into the booming metropolis of Thimphu. Situated at an altitude of 2,300 m it is the home to100,000 Bhutanese. Thimphu being the capital of Bhutan, offers unique opportunities to explore the Bhutanese culture, lifestyle and traditions in depth.
We invite you to see the sights of the Kingdom’s capital with us. Below we have listed some of the experiences that we enjoy the most!
After lunch we will visit Changangkha Lhakhang. The monastery is the old fortress-like lhakhang perched on a ridge above the city with great views of Thimphu town. The 12th century temple, which still remains one of the main centers of worship for the locals, is the home to the statue of the 11-headed Avalokitesvara, the God of Compassion. The lhakhang is frequently visited by families as it is believed that if you bring a sick child to the temple, it will not take long before it recovers. Many go to pray for their child’s protection.
We will continue our visit to Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king Jigme’s Palace.
The Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong. It is the seat of the government and the centre of all religious affairs of the Kingdom. It houses the office and the throne room of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King Jigmi’s palace.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, THIMPHU.
Day 2 : THIMPHU
After breakfast we will take in more of kingdom’s rich culture at the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum is a restored three story traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.
We will also browse the striking collection of intricate textile at the National Textile museum. The Museum introduces you to the living national art of weaving. The exhibition displays the major weaving techniques and styles of local dress and textile made by the Bhutanese women and men.
From the textile museum we will drive to the National Post office for stamps. Bhutan is famous for producing unique and innovative stamps. After selling peculiar “CD-stamps” Bhutan’s Post office now offers personalized stamps; we invite you to surprise your family and friends with your custom-made stamp made with one of your favorite holiday photographs!
From the post office we will visit the Bhutanese Paper factory. The art of handmade paper in Bhutan dates back to the 8th century, although usage was limited mainly to religious purposes. Today it is considered an important element in the preservation of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. The factory allows guests to view the paper making process and purchase gifts from their show room.
Next we will visit the sacred National memorial chorten.
This is a Tibetan-style chorten built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck.
After lunch we will hike to the ancient Wangditse Goemba. It is an easy hike through pine forest and with good overview of King Jigme’s palace (1.5 – 2 hrs hike). Wangditse Goemba was founded in 1750 by the attendants of Bhutan’s 8th desi, Yeshey Rabgye. It was renovated in 2002 after it suffered seriousdamage in
a windstorm in 1995. The goemba houses the statues of the guardian deities.
On our way back we wil stop to visit the Mini Zoo. The zoo used to exhibit various indigenous wild animals, which were later released back into the wild by order of the 4th King who declared that such a facility was not in keeping with the Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions. The zoo now only features the Takin, which is the national animal of Bhutan. The Takins were originally released with the rest of the animals, but had become so familiar with people that they were found wandering around Thimphu looking for food. The only solution was to put them back into captivity.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, THIMPHU
Day 3 : PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (2900 m)
THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (5 hrs drive)
Before driving thru the fir, juniper and rhododendron into the glacier valley of Phobjikha, we will briefly visit Semtokha Dzong.
The oldest dzong in the country (built in 1629) stands on a soaring ridge 5 km away from Thimphu. It’s strategic position is evident as it controls all the approaches to and from Thimphu. Notice the contrast of traditional and modern as you enter the dzong grounds; the white painted dzong with the growing city in the background and the newly constructed 164 ft / 50 m tall Buddha statue perched on the hill right behind. It now houses the Institute of Language and Culture Studies.
After the visit we will continue our drive to east for roughly 50 minutes and arrive at the Dochula Pass (3050 meters). If weather permits we will have great views of the extended eastern himalayas in Bhutan.
After lunch our journey continue by winding our way into Wangdi valley (1300 meters). From there we will drive up until the neck of Pelela pass (3300 meters) where we will cut our way to take a diversion into the glacier valley filled with dwarf bamboos. The valley is one of the most important wildlife preserve in the country, because of the large flock of black necked cranes that migrates from Tibet in the winter.
OVER NIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, PHOBJIKHA.
Day 4 : PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
Today’s exploration of the Phobjikha valley begins with a very easy 2 hrs hike (following the nature trail).
Before the hike we will visit the famous 16th century Gangtey Goemba that overlooks the large green expanse of the valley. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly be the families of the Gomchens ( lay monk ) who take care of the monastery. The car will pick us up and drive back to the hotel for hot lunch.
After lunch we will visit the crane observation and education centre. There we can watch the short documentary on the magnificent black necked crane and also visit the cottage house producing local carpet.
We will definitely have time for a good hike before the sunsets.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, PHOBJIKHA.
Day 5 : PUNAKHA (1300 m)
PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – PUNAKHA ( 3 hrs drive )
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountain sides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
Today our journey takes us back winding our way through Wangdi into Punakha valley. We will briefly stop in Wangdi to visit the Wangdiphodrang Dzong. The Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. It is remarkable as it completely commands an impressive view over both the directions. The Dzong is roofed with wooden shingles and has an rustic but disquieting charm bout it.
After lunch at the hotel we will drive up north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving or walking up from the footbridge towards the lodge. The three leveled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, PUNAKHA.
Day 6 : PUNAKHA
After breakfast we will drive down roughly 25 minutes to hike to the famous Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility temple. 1 hr hike) The 30-minute walk from the road to the lhakhang is through open farmland and rice paddies. It is believed that a demoness who had been terrorizing the valley transformed herself into a black dog to escape the wrath of Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine Madman. However, he caught the dog and buried it under a pile of earth shaped like a woman’s breast. He then built a chorten on top of this mount and prophesied that a temple would one day be consecrated over it. True to the prophecy, his brother, Lam Ngawang Chogyal, built Chime Lhakhang in 1456. If you are wishing for a child, it is believed by the Bhutanese that a visit to the Divine Madman’s temple, Chime Lhakhang, might help increase your chances! Thousands of people visit this temple on pilgrimage and numerous couples visit the lhakhang to pray to become pregnant and receive a wang (blessing) from the saint with the magic thunderbolt of wisdom. Many parents also bring their newborn children to receive the baby’s name from the local lama.
After lunch we will visit the stunning Punakha Dzong.
The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one-thousand Buddhas.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, PUNAKHA.
Day 7 : PARO (2300 m)
PUNAKHA – PARO (4.5 hrs drive)
The journey west takes us back to Paro valley following thru wang Chhu and Pa Chhu rivers.
lunch at Paro.
we will visit the Paro Dzong and take in the amazing architecture of this 17th century monument, a premier example of Bhutan’s architecture.
Paro Dzong was built in 17th century to defend Paro from the Tibetan invasion. It is also known as Rinpung Dzong which means the ‘fortress on a heap of jewels’. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro district. After the visit we will stroll down to the cantilever bridge.
If time permit we will visit the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang.
The 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom where the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries which were to be built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, PARO.
Day 8 : PARO
Today we will hike to the most famous Taktsang Goempa (Tiger’s nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike.
Tiger’s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meter above the valley floor.
The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into Bhutan on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave before bringing Buddhism to Bhutan.
The four-hour round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below. Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey.
The hike up to this very important pilgrim site is a great finish to this day of cultural immersion and your journey to this ancient kingdom of BHUTAN.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL, PARO.
Day 9 : INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURE